What Has Been Filmed in Tonga?
The truth is not much. Unlike its South Pacific neighbours, Tonga is no movie star. Nevertheless, Tonga has certainly been the subject of many movies and TV shows, from the tales of a Mormon missionary in Disney’s The Other Side of Heaven to bizarre comedies like Jonah from Tonga. While Tonga hasn’t been the inspiration of fictional films, its natural landscapes, wildlife and culture have certainly been interesting subjects for various documentaries. So check out what TV shows and movies have been filmed in Tonga in the list below.
1. BBC Life (2009)
The renowned wildlife documentary from the BBC, narrated by David Attenborough, filmed their humpback whale portions of “Life” in Tonga. In episode three, Mammals, the seas around Tonga were used for filming the nursery and mating ground of humpback whales. The British TV show films a humpback heat-run where a female leads potential suitors on a chase. The scene was filmed in Vava’u. See where you can see whales in Vava’u here.
2. Tongan Ninja (2002)
An action-comedy movie co-starry Flight of the Conchords star, Jemaine Clement, Tongan Ninja features Tonga in, ahem, all its glory? The plot is about a young boy who gets stranded in Tonga in a plane crash, his father gets eaten by a fish, and he trains to be a ninja… Then he ends up going to New Zealand for more nonsense to occur.
3. Treasure Island (1997)
Despite Tonga having a resort called Treasure Island, it’s not to be confused with the reality TV show filmed in the Kingdom by the same name. The show, which originated in New Zealand in 1997, had contestants isolated on a remote Tongan island in the very early seasons. Later in the show’s history, filming moved to Fiji. Contestants would play for a cash prize.
4. Shipwrecked: Season 2 (2001)
A similar format to the show mentioned above, Shipwrecked was a British reality TV show where young contestants would have to survive on an island with no competition or prize (although later renditions of the series add these elements). The second season of the original series was filmed in Tonga.
5. Pacific Warriors (2015)
This British documentary looks behind the scenes of Pacific Island rugby teams and their players. It explores the backgrounds of rugby players in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. Learn more about the Tongan culture here and in Who are the People of Tonga?
6. Somewhere in Tonga (2017)
Somewhere in Tonga is a German film following a social worker, Wolski, who attempts to give a criminal teenager a second chance by living on an uninhabited island with him. The movie features plenty of Tongan scenes and culture to inspire anyone wanting to see more of the islands. The movie is based on a true story.